Suspects Wanted in Fatal Shooting of Two Tampa Police Officers

Two Tampa, Florida police officers have lost their lives after an ordinary traffic stop turned deadly.

Officer David Curtis, 31, pulled over a vehicle that had no license plate in the early morning hours on Tuesday, June 29. After determining that the male passenger was wanted in connection with a worthless check warrant out of Jacksonville, he called for backup. When Officer Jeffrey Kocab, also 31, arrived, the two approached the vehicle on the passenger side.

According to Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, “as they put their hands on the suspect, the suspect spun around, pulled a firearm, and shot both police officers.” A passerby called 911 and attempted CPR on the downed officers, before an ambulance arrived to take them to Tampa General Hospital. Kocab was pronounced dead shortly after arrival; Curtis was pronounced dead later, although police said he remained on life support for several hours so that his organs could be harvested, per his family’s wishes.

Police announced several hours after the incident that two people who were “at the scene of the shooting” were being sought for questioning. They were identified as Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, and Cortnee Nicole Brantly, 22.

Additionally, authorities said that they were searching for a red 1994 Toyota Camry, as well as an African-American man and woman. The man was described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 150 to 170 pounds, and in his mid-20s. He was said to be wearing brown shorts, a white t-shirt, a black vest and white sneakers. No information was available regarding the woman’s appearance. A manhunt was been launched that includes both uniformed and undercover officers, air support and search dogs.

Police had several leads in the city of Tampa, but were also searching statewide, said officials. Castor had told reporters that authorities believed they knew the identity of the suspect, and that “there’s probably a great deal more to it than just that misdemeanor warrant.”

Curtis, a three-year veteran of the department, is survived by a wife and four sons, ages 9, 6, 5, and 8 months. Kocab, who has been with the Tampa Police for just over a year, and who advanced through the training program to become an officer more rapidly than other candidates “because of his outstanding police skills,” was due to become a father within the week.

“The safety of Tampa residents was the first priority for Officers Kocab and Curtis, and today they selflessly made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their city,” Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a statement issued after the officers’ deaths.

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